“My preference would be that we not celebrate their lives as they were basically in rebellion against the Union,” he said.

Earnest blames the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville for damaging the efforts of his group to preserve Confederate markers and monuments.

Despite the ongoing controversy over the name and implications of honoring Lee and Jackson, there are no signs that state political leaders are interested in addressing the holiday right now. Although there is no bill in the offing, Gov.-elect Ralph Northam, whose inauguration is scheduled for Saturday, would sign such legislation if the General Assembly approved it, an official in the incoming administration said. Passing such legislation might be a hard sell, particularly for representatives from more conservative districts.

But this year, the Confederate supporters will hold their parade as scheduled and the anti-racism group will have its event on Monday, the King holiday.

In 1978, the General Assembly, pushed by L. Douglas Wilder – who was then a state senator and later became governor – created a state holiday honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., which was celebrated on Jan. 1. Six years later, in a move that baffled many observers, the Assembly voted to honor all three men on the third Monday in January and called it Lee-Jackson-King Day in tribute to the “defenders of causes.” Martin Luther King Day was first observed as a federal holiday in 1986, but it wasn’t until 2000 that the Assembly detached Lee-Jackson Day from the King holiday.

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